RESTAURANT REVIEW: Pub grub doesn't get better than this
Chicken in baskets, beef burgers, sticky toffee pudding and hotpots.
The Clog and Billycock is proud of its old school pub grub reputation. And it should be.
In the wrong hands these dishes are boring, kitsch throwbacks to a grey, tasteless past. But done right, they are as good as it gets and they are exactly what this pub excels at reinventing for the modern diner.
The menu is a celebration of classic northern fayre and the great Lancashire larder all brought together, no doubt, under the watchful gaze of celebrity chef Nigel Haworth, who owns the pub along with four others as part of his Ribble Valley Inns group.
Cooking duties at the Clog don’t belong to Nigel (he’s too busy running the pass down the road at his Michelin-starred Northcote restaurant), but his influence is all over the place.
Mrs Eating Out spent no time picking Nigel’s famous Lancashire hotpot (£13.50) from the menu. It’s the dish that won him plaudits on the BBC’s Great British Menu and he can now count my wife as a fan too.
Tender chunks of lamb in a peppery stew came topped with thin, crispy discs of potato all served with a side of pickled red cabbage. It is a classic for a reason and this version is as good as you’re likely to get. It’s no wonder it remains one of the most popular things on the menu.
Sticking with the traditional vibe, I went full 70s throwback with chicken in a basket (£12.50).
Buttermilk fried boneless Goosnargh chicken thighs came served with coleslaw and skin on chips all served in, you guessed it, a basket.
The quality of the ingredients really shined through. The choice of Goosnargh chicken from the famous Johnson and Swarbrick farm outside Preston, for example, shows a real commitment to the best local ingredients.
The menu flags up loads of local producers used at the restaurant from Mrs Dowsons ice cream makers in Blackburn and JJ Sandham Cheesmakers in Barton to Thwaites Brewery in Blackburn and Wellgate Fisheries in Clitheroe.
It’s great to see so much of the menu coming from within a 20 mile radius of the kitchen.
Even Little Miss Eating Out was spoiled for choice with a great kids menu with four starter and six main course options.
She opted for a burger in a toasted English muffin with tomato, lettuce and Lancashire cheese (from Dewlays, of course) and skinny chips (£6).
It’s fair to say her favourite part of the meal, however, was the two scoops of Mrs Dowsons ice cream with chocolate popping candy and ‘monkey blood sauce’ (£3).
The rest of us couldn’t resist the sweet treats either.
I went for a decadently calorific sticky toffee pudding drenched in toffee sauce and topped with creamy vanilla ice cream to round off the evening. Mrs Eating Out went with a cheese board (£6). It came with three hunks of regional cheeses, local butter, biscuits, two slabs of bread and a chutney.
It’s not often my wife (nicknamed Wallace on account of her love of all things cheese and the odd face she pulls on photographs) leaves cheese but even she couldn’t finish it off.
We washed it all down with a pint of real ale for me, a sauvignon blanc for the better half and a lemonade for the little one.
As far as pub grub with the family goes, it doesn’t really get any better. We’ll certainly be back soon.